'Star Wars' Spaceships: Our Favorite Vehicles in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
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Delta-7 Jedi StarfighterFrom the nimble X-wing starfighters to the behemoth Death Star, there are a lot of great spaceships in the "Star Wars" universe. In honor of Star Wars Day (May the 4th), here's a list of Space.com's favorite ships from the "Star Wars" movies. (There are many other ships to consider from the "Star Wars" TV shows, books, comics and video games, but for the sake of brevity we've limited our list to ships that appear in the films.)
Shown here, a Delta-7 Jedi starfighter, flown by a young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
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#17: Y-wing starfighterNot nearly as sleek as the X-wing starfighters and lacking the smart design of the B-wings, the Y-wing ship remains an important part of the Rebel Alliance fleet. The ship predates the X-wing (in the Star Wars universe), but the well-armored ships were still part of the Gold Squadron, the first ships to attempt to destroy the Death Star by hitting the weak spot in its exhaust port. You've got to give credit to these old workhorses for jumping headfirst into the fray. The ship appeared in "Star Wars: Episode— IV A New Hope," "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back" and "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi." Most recently, it appeared in 2016's "Rogue One."
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#16: B-wing fighterUsed extensively by the Rebel Alliance in "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi," the B-wing (or Blade wing) isn't as maneuverable as the more recognizable Rebel ship, the X-wing. However, the B-wing's long central body is equipped with a heavy-weapons pod at one end and a massive engine at the center, providing more firepower than some of the more agile Rebel ships. This ship gets points for creative engineering.
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#14: Naboo N-1 starfighterOne of the more artfully designed ships in the "Star Wars" universe, these starfighters were part of the fleet protecting the lush planet of Naboo. The ships appeared in "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," as well as the special edition version of "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi."
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#15: Jedi starfightersThe Delta 7 starfighter was built specifically for use by the Jedi Order, and is thus also known as the Jedi starfighter. Obi-Wan Kenobi piloted one of these red-and-white ships, which have the sleek, simple shape of an arrowhead. Another Jedi starfighter, known as the Eta-2, (shown here in a clip from the animated show "Star Wars Rebels") appeared later, and has a slightly different design than the classic Delta 7. Both versions of the Jedi starfighter appear in "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," and the original Delta 7 also appeared in "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith."
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#13: Tantive IVThis unassuming space cruiser is a favorite because it’s part of the famous opening shot and the setting of one of the most dramatic scenes from "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope": After the Rebel Alliance has stolen design plans for the Death Star, Darth Vader and Empire stormtroopers board the Tantive IV, killing many of the Rebels and seizing Princess Leia Organa, who supposedly has the plans. But she's already sent them to Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the hands of two droids. Thus begins the story that launched the "Star Wars" franchise. The ship has also appeared in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "Star Wars Rebels" and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
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#12: Count Dooku's Solar SailerThe gorgeous solar sailer used by Count Dooku in "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was a modified version of a Punworcca 116-class interstellar swoop, according to Wookiepeedia. In the real world, engineers have proposed designs for solar sails that use solar power to propel spacecraft around the universe. The real-world designs look somewhat related to Dooku's ship, so maybe that's why I'm partial to this particular ship.
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#11: The GhostThis manta-ray-shaped ship had a prominent role in "Star Wars Rebels," but it makes our list because of a few brief cameos on "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The ship is "named for its ability to travel past Imperial sensors without detection," according to StarWars.com.
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#9: Kylo Ren's Command ShuttleTalk about an entrance. Kylo Ren's shuttle is first seen onscreen in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," slowly descending to Earth amid the fiery, bloody chaos of a Jakku village massacre carried out by the First Order. The ship's two side wings slowly rise from a flight position into a landing position, like a graceful bird of prey coming to rest. This ship is an Upsilon-class shuttle that appeared in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." It is more nimble than the Delta-class T-3c shuttle, which has a pyramid-shaped central body and appeared in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
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#10: Hammerhead CorvetteThe importance of having a variety of ship designs within a single military fleet was displayed beautifully by the Hammerhead Corvettes in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Armed with powerful engines and an extremely durable body, the ships acted like battering rams in the Battle of Scarif, sending an entire Star Destroyer crashing into a shield generator above the planet. The ships have also appeared in "Star Wars Rebels."
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#8: Imperial Star Destroyer and Super Star DestroyerWhile there are distinct differences between these two wedge-shaped Imperial ships, we grouped them into a single category. These powerhouses took design cues from WWII battleships, and served as the mobile headquarters of the Empire throughout much of the original trilogy. It was an Imperial Star Destroyer that helped set the tone of the franchise during the opening scene of "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope." The audience sees the massive ship enter at the top of the frame, stretching out like a storm cloud overhead, chasing a comparatively puny Rebel Alliance ship. That scene, illustrating the overbearing reach of the Empire and the underdog status of the Rebels, is a masterful (and now iconic) example of visual storytelling. These ships have also appeared in "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi," and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
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#7: Classic TIE fighterIn the "Star Wars" original trilogy, head-to-head combat between the Alliance and the Empire usually involved X-wing starfighters (Rebels) and TIE fighters (Empire). The latter could be identified by their shape (essentially, a letter "H") and by the now-iconic screech they made as they descended into battle (even though, of course, no sound can travel in the vacuum of space). Darth Vader piloted a distinctive TIE Fighter, with angled side panels, instead of the perfectly straight panels on most TIE Fighters. They appear in "Star Wars: Episode IV ― A New Hope," "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi" and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
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#6: First Order TIE fighterIn "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," audiences are introduced to the First Order, an evil group that has filled the shoes of the Galactic Empire, now battling with the Resistance. The First Order TIE fighters have some significant upgrades, including better protections for the pilots. Their full capabilities are put on display during an epic chase scene with the Millennium Falcon.
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#5: The Death StarThis one needs no introduction (although we invite you to argue over whether it qualifies as a "ship"). Serving as the final step in The Empire's march toward galactic dominance, the Death Star was a spherical space station the size of a small moon. It was destroyed at the end of "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" and then appeared in the prequel movies "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." There seems to be a regular stream of articles about whether it would ever be possible to build a Death Star in the real world. I see this as evidence that many fans want to believe such a thing could exist, albeit maybe without the planet-destroying laser.
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#4: T-70 X-wing/Poe Dameron's black X-wingIn "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," we're introduced to a slightly updated take on a classic: the T-70 X-wing, an upgraded version of the classic X-wing ships used by the Rebel Alliance, now used by the Resistance. Multiple iterations of the X-wing appeared in the extended universe. Poe Dameron's sleek, dark X-wing, called Black One (and for which he earned the call signal Black Leader), first appeared in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and will apparently also appear in the upcoming "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," due out around Christmas 2017.
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#3: Slave 1The notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett chased Han Solo across the galaxy, and eventually captured him after Solo was entombed in carbonite by the Empire. In "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," Fett carries Solo away from Cloud City in Slave 1. In the prequel, "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," we learn that Fett inherited Slave 1 from his father, the bounty hunter Jango Fett. Like other ships in the Star Wars universe, a large part of Slave 1's appeal is its association with particular characters. The ship also has a unique design: it turns 90 degrees from takeoff orientation to flight orientation, which requires a pivoting cockpit.
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#2: Original X-wing StarfighterLuke Skywalker's preferred mode of transportation, the classic X-wing spaceship, is another fan favorite. The ship is the primary vehicle used in battle by the Rebel Alliance's Starfighter Corps, thanks to its combined maneuverability and power. Even though the T-70 probably has some nice upgrades, we have to rank the classic version slightly higher, both for initiating the subsequent line of X-wings, and that whole Luke-used-one-to-destroy-the-Death-Star thing.
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#1: The Millennium FalconCall it cliché, or at the very least, unsurprising, but the No. 1 spot on our list goes to the Millennium Falcon.
The ship, with it's unique, slightly asymmetric shape, served as a mobile home for many of the franchise's most beloved characters. It was roomy enough to carry cargo, but was designed to achieve speed and maneuverability on par with much smaller ships built specifically for combat.
Fans were first introduced to the Falcon in "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope," when the ship seemed to be well past its prime (that famous Kessel Run was discussed in the same way one might talk about a retired athlete's once-great performance). The ship was being used to ferry illegal cargo around the galaxy, and was essentially an extension of its owner, Han Solo a seemingly self-centered criminal who wasn't afraid to shoot first. By the end of the film, Solo revealed the heart of gold beneath his rough exterior, and throughout the "Star Wars" movies, the Millennium Falcon also demonstrated its hidden abilities. In "The Force Awakens," the Falcon effectively becomes a symbol of the torch being passed from one generation of Star Wars heroes to the next, when a new adventurer takes a seat in the cockpit.
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